Murray sees a huge opportunity for Ward at Wimbledon
Whatever the outcome of the battle of the Brits on court today, Alexander Ward has already scored a big win at Wimbledon this year.
Northampton’s Ward takes on compatriot Kyle Edmund in the first round, looking to build upon performances in qualifying last week.
On paper, the odds are stacked against him with Edmund ranked 50 in the world and Ward 819 places lower.
But statistics only paint a certain picture, with Ward – who enjoyed a career-high ranking of 242 last June – having only recently returned from a six-month wrist injury.
Just coming through qualification has already ensured he will receive at least £35,000 from his Wimbledon adventure – a significant payday considering his total career earnings comes to £146,000.
And while progressing through to the second round might be a tough ask, Ward can use his windfall to help his progress for the rest of the season, according to former Fed Cup captain Judy Murray.
“He’s had a really tough time so this is a huge boost for him to come through qualifying and get a chance to play at Wimbledon,” said Murray, speaking on day one of the All England Championships.
“For a player of his level, it’s also a huge opportunity – however far he gets – the prize money at Wimbledon whether he goes out in the first round, second round – that will sustain his career significantly.
“It will allow him hopefully to travel with a coach from time to time.
“Often players of that ranking haven’t got the funds to pay for coaches to travel with them so getting into the main draw of a slam – no matter how far he gets – represents an opportunity to get a boost in the next stage of his career.”
Ward has only ever made one appearance at Wimbledon, losing to David Goffin in the first round last year after being awarded a wildcard.
Despite his higher ranking, Edmund has not progressed any further in four attempts either, meaning one will be chalking up a career milestone today.
And Murray believes the crowd could have their part to play in how the match pans out.
“Kyle is going to be the favourite in his match by a long way in that one. But it’s never easy playing a compatriot,” she added.
“It’s also never easy when you’re the one who is expected to win and the crowd possibly favours the underdog.
“There are quite a few different factors which will come into play. I guess the bonus for Kyle is that he will probably know how the play the guy so that plays to his advantage too.”
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